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After repositioning Reagan’s feet toward the foot of the bed, she sat sentinel while Reagan slept. Bette inventoried the similarities between mother and daughter. Besides the same hair and eyes, they both had second toes longer than their big ones. So cute. Still a work in progress, but Bette could see on most days the loving soul Avery instilled in Reagan.
You’d be so proud of her, Avery. She’s growing up to be so much like you.
She rubbed Reagan’s back and whispered. “I’m proud of you, too.”
Regan stirred and mumbled, “Huh?”
“Nothing, honey. Go back to sleep.”
Gentle snores signaled Bette could safely move again. The dream of standing on the deck with Avery in her arms had come back to her. The kiss felt real, yet, it didn’t. Glancing at the alarm clock across the room, the time read 4:06. Too early to get ready for work, but the jarring effects of the dream had her too awake to go back to sleep. Maybe some tea would lull her brain back to a restful state.
Drawing the covers back, she swung her feet to the floor. Moments later, illumination from the small red and white dots of various electronic devices in the living room guided Bette into the kitchen. After microwaving water in a mug, she added a small bag of chamomile, dipping it several times to diffuse the tea. When she turned toward the couch clutching her mug, something tugged at her. She turned back, this time toward the dining room.
After sliding the glass door open and stepping out to the deck, the chilly bay breeze cut right through her. She laid her cup on a small table before walking over to the storage bench wedged against the far railing. She opened the lid. When she lifted the top blanket, beneath it lay a gray wool sweater Avery wore when the cold, damp air got to her.
More of her dream came back. Remembering when she wrapped her arms around Avery, her wife had worn this sweater. She dropped the blanket and grabbed it instead. When memories of Avery wrapped inside this thing flashed in her mind, she brought it to her nose and inhaled the familiar scent of fresh lavender. But how? After sitting in the storage bin for months in the salty air collecting dust, how could it still smell like Avery had just worn it?
When she put the sweater on, the wool fibers warmed her. She latched on to both lapels and brought them to her nose, inhaling again.
“Avery, you were here.” When she said that, the wool in the sleeves tickled the skin on her arms as if Avery had wrapped her arms around her.
After picking up the cup of tea, she leaned her elbows on the deck railing. The mug heated her fingers while she gazed at the dark bay waters. Uncharacteristically clear, the night sky revealed the brightest stars outshining the city lights.
“I’ll never forget you, Avery Santos” she repeated the words from her dream. A sip of tea warmed her throat and stomach, then the wool tickled her arms again.
‘Go to her. She loves you,’ Avery’s voice whispered in her ear or in her head.
“I will,” she whispered back. With those final words, Bette was free. Free to follow her heart. Free to love Tina the way they both deserved.